The annual Interfaith Thanksgiving service
was held this year at the Unitarian Universalist Church. It was
a wonderfully diverse representation with participation by Tibetan
Buddhists, Zen Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Baha’i, Sufi,
Hindu, Yaqui Indian, Mayan and Submitters. Emily Elkadi read verses
she had selected from the Quran which touched on our diversity and
similarity and our need to be appreciative of God’s blessings.
In spite of the differences of language, culture, costume and ritual,
it was amazing how familiar the basic message was. I would like
to relate the story told by the Hindu representative, Ramesh Sharma.
He first offered an ancient prayer which basically asked God to
remove from us all negative ideas and desires and to grant us the
things that are good for us, even if we don’t like them.
You may dislike something which is good for you and
you may like something which is bad for you. God knows while you
do not know. (2:216)
Mr. Sharma said that this story was a true narration from ancient
India. The prince of a community was approached by people of the
town complaining about the spiritual minister. The priest was always
saying: “This is the best that God could give you.”
Whether it was a good harvest or a death in the family, the priest
said the same thing: “This is the best from God.” The
prince told the minister that he needed to be more sympathetic,
but the priest insisted that whatever happened was for the best
and he would continue to say so. One
day the prince, his entourage and the priest went on a hunting trip
into the deep jungle. Soon the prince and the minister got separated
from the rest and became hopelessly lost. The minister said, “This
is the best thing from God.” The prince was furious with this
attitude and warned the priest not to say that again. Shortly, there
was an accident and the prince lost his little finger. Again, the
minister said, “This is the best thing from God.” The
prince screamed, “That’s it; you’re fired!”
The minister simply said, “That is the best thing from God.”
Angrily, the prince went his own way.
He became more and more lost deeper in the jungle. Suddenly he
encountered a remote tribe that was celebrating an annual ritual.
Each year at this time, they sent a party into the jungle and the
first living thing they located they brought back to their village
to sacrifice. This time the prince was the first thing they met.
They bundled him off to the village and despite his fearful protests
they cleaned him up in preparation for the sacrifice. But before
they could carry it out, their high priest examined the prince and
announced that they could not sacrifice him because he was not complete—he
was missing his little finger. Instantly, the prince understood
why his minister had said that losing his finger was the best thing
God could do.
They let the prince go and even helped him find his way home. When
he got there he went right to the priest’s
house. The priest had found his way
home days ago and was simply relaxing at home. The prince told him
what had happened and said, “Now I know why losing my finger
was a good thing from God. But why did you also say that my firing
you was the best thing from God?”
The priest answered, “If you hadn't fired me I would still
have been with you and when the villagers couldn’t use you
for the sacrifice they would have turned to me.”
All we have to do is read 18:60-82 in the Quran to find exactly
the same kind of story. We learn that there is always a good reason
for everything, even if we don’t know that reason. Nothing
happens except in accordance with God’s will. It’s an
important reminder for us.
The Thanksgiving service is a chance for people from many different
religious backgrounds to come together in appreciation of God’s
many blessings and to offer thanks for those blessings. As Submitters,
we need to remember to take opportunities every day, as often as
we can, to thank God and strive to be more appreciative.
If you count God's blessings you cannot possibly
encompass them. God is Forgiver, Most Merciful. (16:18)
...You shall be appreciative of God. Whoever is appreciative
is appreciative for his own good. As for those who turn unappreciative,
God is no need, Praiseworthy. (31:12)